Prep football: Cloquet handles elements, Proctor
CLOQUET -- Just when Northlanders started to get comfortable following upwards of 24 consecutive hours without rain, the skies opened Friday evening and doused the region before a spate of high school football games kicked off.
CLOQUET - Just when Northlanders started to get comfortable following upwards of 24 consecutive hours without rain, the skies opened Friday evening and doused the region before a spate of high school football games kicked off.
Cloquet quarterback Tim Pokornowski observed the slop and knew passing the ball was likely to be an adventure. Talk about a buzz kill. The senior came in having completed 44 of 65 passes for 621 yards and nine touchdowns. It's a vital component of the Lumberjacks' point-a-minute offense.
"It's a little frustrating, but you have to keep your head straight and not let it affect you," Pokornowski said.
Instead, Pokornowski took matters into his own feet. He rushed for a game-high 113 yards, 93 of which came in the first half, as Cloquet defeated Proctor 22-6 at Bromberg Field to remain undefeated.
Pokornowski spruced up a scoreless slog early in the second quarter when he ran in from 5 yards out, capping a drive in which he rushed for 57 yards.
That's the beauty of having a seasoned, dual-threat QB.
"We trust him running the football, just like we do Aahsan (Maigag), Spencer (Wehr), Mitchell (Gerlach) or any of our running backs," Lumberjacks coach Tom Lenarz said. "Timmy's a tremendous athlete. He can do both."
Lenarz insisted it wasn't merely the conditions that slowed the Cloquet attack, which entered the night averaging 44 points.
"I think what limited us was the fact that Proctor is really good," Lenarz said.
Indeed, the Rails (4-2), with defensive lineman Kaleb Stevens leading the charge, bottled up Cloquet for three quarters. The Lumberjacks didn't pull away until the fourth. Proctor had chances early to change the complexion of this one. The Rails fumbled on their first drive before stopping Cloquet on fourth-and-goal. They were moving the ball at will on their next possession only to give it away again.
In the second quarter, following a safety that gave the Lumberjacks an 8-0 lead, Proctor again was on the move. The Rails advanced to the Cloquet 15-yard-line, where a John Pioro pass was intercepted by Jayden Schneberger.
"Cloquet is a really good team and they're going to force you to make mistakes, which we expect, but we made too many self-inflicted wounds," Proctor coach Derek Parendo said.
With the Lumberjacks nursing an eight-point lead entering the fourth, Maigag took over. He had largely been a nonfactor - the speedy running back, who was averaging 7.7 yards per carry before Friday, had negative-11 yards at halftime. Maigag admitted he stewed a bit during the intermission, but he didn't want to let his teammates down, especially on senior night.
"I had to refocus and get back at it," Maigag said.
His clarity came in the fourth, when Maigag peeled off TD runs of 9 and 33 yards. He finished with 81 yards, while workhorse Wehr added 64 on 20 attempts for the Lumberjacks, ranked eighth in Class AAAA.
Proctor and Cloquet combined to turn the ball over eight times - seven in the first half. It didn't rain for long Friday, but it was plenty to soak and soften Bromberg's already compromised natural-grass surface.
Pioro led the Rails with 64 rushing yards. Cody Hampton had 38.
Up next for both clubs: The Lumberjacks travel to Duluth East next week, and Proctor vies for the Hammer against visiting Hermantown. That didn't leave much time for the Rails to dwell on Friday's loss. Parendo was fine with that.
"We generally have a 15-minute rule," the coach said. "When we get back to Proctor, we'll close the book on this one and move on to Hermantown."
C - Tim Pokornowski 5 run (kick failed)
C - Safety
C - Aahsan Maigag 9 run (Elijah Benson kick)
C - Maigag 33 run (Benson kick)
P - Blake Koski 18 pass from John Pioro (run failed)